Something's hot in Seattle, and it's not just the espresso.
The Seattle Steam series
Madison's needs are simple. All she wants are two things: Make Ooo La Latt? the newest trend in espresso, and seduce the sexiest cop in Seattle. But things aren't going exactly as planned.
First, Gabe's a little hung up on the fact that she's his best friend's little sister, and he's determined to keep his hands off. Second, her shop gets robbed by the increasingly violent Espresso Bandit, and now she's the only one who can identify him.
Gabe whisks her into hiding for her own protection, but soon finds his heart is under assault by the luscious--and persistent--Madison. But no matter where they hide, danger follows.
On such dangerous grounds, the trick will be to live long enough to keep the flame alive.
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January 01, 2008
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Excerpt from Dangerous Grounds by Shelli Stevens
Gabe seemed to hesitate before he stepped across the threshold. "This is a nice part of Seattle for you to set up business in." He glanced around. "It looks great. How did you afford it?"
"Part loan, part parents," Madison replied, a bit breathless. He looked even better tonight than he had on Friday. He was such a jeans and T-shirt guy, she decided as he walked past her. And his ass was just as nice as she'd assumed it would be. Yes, seducing him would be all too enjoyable.
"I picked the location because it's more residential, meaning more parking. I want my customers to linger. Plus, I'm in the same plaza as a day spa. I know that'll be good for business." She took in a rapid, nervous breath. "I can't tell you how many times I get done having a facial and all I want is a latt?."
Gabe gave her an I'll take your word on it expression and settled down in one of the chairs at a table.
"Have you hired on any employees?"
Madison sat across from him. "Sarah. She's been a barista with Starbucks for three years. I offered her a five-dollar raise if she quit and came to work for me. She's in college and could seriously use the extra cash, so of course she took it. She's a goddess at making espresso drinks."
"Along with you, right?"
"No, umm, not so much." She waved her hand through the air in dismissal. "Until yesterday I'd never made a latt? in my life. Hell, I could barely make a pot of coffee."
He blinked, seeming stunned by the news. "You don't know how to make espresso? And you're opening your own business?"
"Will you please give me some credit, Gabe?" She rolled her eyes. "I've downed a ton of the stuff."
"Are you kidding me?"
"No. Look, I worked at that caf? in Italy for a year. I saw them doing it--I just never did it myself." She gave an impatient sigh and stood. "I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong. The people I'm leasing the espresso equipment from gave me lessons and I'll make coffee when I need to. But that's why I hired Sarah. She's my barista. I'm just managing things and working the cash register for now."
"There's money in coffee, Gabe. The latt? I charge almost three dollars for only costs me forty-five cents. Cup included." She leaned over him and whispered, "Trust me. I know exactly what I'm doing."
His eyes met hers and she caught her breath. It looked like coffee was the last thing on his mind. His gaze dropped to her breasts, which were at his eye level, and her nipples tightened in anticipation.
Her pulse raced as heat shot straight between her legs. Was he talking about her breasts? But his comment sounded amused.
Madison looked down at her chest and flushed. Of course. How could she have forgotten what her shirt said? So maybe it wasn't the breasts he'd been checking out. Bummer.
She jerked back and hurried around the counter to the espresso equipment. "You left the party early on Friday night. Did you hear that Eric and Lannie got engaged?"
"Yeah." His gaze followed her. "Eric told me earlier in the night he was planning on popping the question. Do they have a date yet?"
"Are you kidding?" Madison started preparing his mocha. "By the end of the night she'd picked a date, a caterer, and a location."
"Hmm. I guess she wasn't too surprised by the proposal either."
"Yeah, not so much. I'm sure she's already picked out the names of their future children." Madison grated a bit of a chocolate bar on top of the drink and carried it out to him. "Lannie asked me to be a bridesmaid. I think it's a pity position just because I'm Eric's sister. God knows she has enough friends."
"I'm the best man." Gabe stared down at the drink that she'd placed in front of him. "Is this coffee?"
"It's a mocha. And I know you said you don't like coffee, but it's good. I promise. Just try it."
He picked up the wide mug and brought it to his mouth. His lips pursed as his blew on the steaming liquid.
Madison's gaze focused on those lips and she held back a groan. Just think, soon those lips could be all over my body.
He took a sip and then swallowed. His expression remained the same. Then he raised his gaze to her questioning stare and gave a brief smile.
"Um, I like what you did with the fresh chocolate on top."
"Thanks. I'm a chocolate activist."
Time to get him thinking about something besides coffee. Madison walked back toward the counter, making sure her elbow nudged the straws so they tumbled onto the floor.
"Oops, I swear I am so clumsy sometimes." She bent over slowly and smiled as she felt her jeans pull downward with the motion. If she was correct--and from the sudden coolness on her bare skin she knew she was--her thong would be quite visible right now.
She picked up the straws, trying to figure out if his silence meant he was checking her out. She glanced over her shoulder to where he was sitting. Bingo. His eyes were focused very intently on her ass. They immediately shifted when he realized she had turned to look at him.
"It's good, huh?" she asked and turned her attention back to the straws. "Your mocha."
"It's...pretty damn good."
Madison clutched the straws in her hand and deposited them in the garbage.
She came back and sat beside him. He glanced everywhere but at her. His mocha, the door, the wall full of ceramic mugs.
His gaze turned to her, almost with reluctance.
"Can I get you anything else? Are you hungry? Do you want some biscotti? Maybe a bagel?" She ran her tongue over her bottom lip. "Or how about a blowjob?"